• Published 8th Oct 2015
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Conquering the Mountain - johnnosk

How did a pony get into the pit crew?

  • ...

Saturday October 11, 2014 Part VI

Conquering the Mountain
Saturday October 11, 2014
Part VI

The paddock area behind the garages was locally known as ‘Transporter Row’ for obvious reasons. The amount of skill required to precisely park the massive vehicles was not a skill that came quickly or easily to Len or the other transport drivers.

It was with Len’s personal sewing kit that Rarity had retrieved from the big driver before heading out to the empty transporter to make the necessary alterations to the new shirts she was preparing for her friends.

Unfortunately, Rarity crossed paths with a wandering driver by the name of David Reynolds. To the uninformed and the unwary, Reynolds appeared to be flighty as he drifted from one event to the next, seemingly without a care. He knew that he was a strong driver and he enjoyed the great Australian pastime of ‘Shit stirring’

“Hey, whatcha doing?” he asked Rarity

For her part, Rarity was taken back slightly. Ponies were a new enough sight that most people were hesitant to approach in case they accidently caused offence. “My dear sir, I’m off to alter these garments so my friends will be properly attired tomorrow.”

Reynolds was known for having a mouth that was always in gear while his brain was in neutral and as such would say whatever was on his mind, regardless of the consequences.

“You guys are naked all the time.” he said, “How good can the clothes be if that’s the case?”

Being the elder sister to one third of the mobile mess makers known as the Cutie Mark Crusaders, Rarity had learned to be a beacon of calm and as such, there were few things that got Rarity’s temper to flare up. Unfortunately for Reynolds, insulting her trade was one of them.

“Oh. It. Is. On!” said Rarity, her eyes growing ever so slightly madder with each word. It was at that moment that Reynolds knew, he’d fucked up.

Managing, somehow, not to compound his error any further. Reynolds began to back away from Rarity. When her horn began to glow with its normal blue energy, Reynolds threw caution to the wind and turned his retreat into a full blown rout.

It was unfortunate for the luckless driver that his back was the very target that Rarity sought and with the skill of a master seamstress, Rarity pushed a pin into the green ‘Bottle-O’ shirt, stopping just short of touching the skin.

Of course, as soon as Reynolds leaned against anything, he would feel the slight prick against his skin with no idea as to the cause. With any luck, the irritation should last the rest of the afternoon.

Satisfied that honour had been suitably defended, Rarity’s focus returned to the task at hoof. Making her way inside the Erebus transporter, she took the time to properly size up the shirts. In their current unaltered state, the shirts would drape over the wearer like a tent and would need to be taken in while not disturbing the colourful sponsorship logos.

Making sure that she had adequate light before closing the door, Rarity laid out the borrowed sewing kit so that it was displayed in a manner that would be familiar to many a surgeon. Humming a bouncy tune, Rarity made the first cut.

Inside the Erebus garage, it was also relatively calm. While the mechanics and race engineers ran a series of tests and checks on the various components and sensors that were spread around each Mercedes, Twilight was finding herself being used as a long range set of hands.

“Hold it steady, Twilight.” said Wischusen as he entered a series of commands into his laptop.

Under normal circumstances, Wischusen would be forced to balance the laptop on his knee as he changed the settings in the vehicle's engine management computer from the cramped position of the Erebus safety cell.

This was all because the V8 Supercar regulations put the engine management computer along with the recordings from the onboard camera in what would be the passenger’s footwell.

To save Wischusen the strain of contorting himself into various positions, Twilight was holding up the laptop with her magic. All while sitting at the engineering station, safely away from the controlled chaos of the cars.

“It would be easier if that was the only thing I was holding.” said Twilight

Wischusen snorted in disbelief, “You told me that you could reshelve an entire library of books at once, how hard can holding up a laptop be?”

“I’m holding up two laptops, four toolboxes, a dozen individual tools, keeping a firm grip on a 10mm socket and reading the paper. It’s a tough job but somepony has to do it.”

Wischusen could hear the smile on Twilight’s face as he finished up and somehow managed to exit the cockpit relatively easily. A quick look around the garage revealed that Twilight wasn’t exaggerating when she listed off all the items under her control.

Following the various mechanics like obedient dogs, the wheeled tool boxes that were normally at the edges of the garage were now constantly within the mechanics reach without being underfoot.

Slowly backing away from the surreal nature of what he was seeing, Wischusen made his way to the engineering station where Twilight was engrossed in the local Bathurst newspaper.

“You do realise that you’re reading yesterday’s paper?” he asked

“Oh,” said Twilight, “I wondered why it was so familiar.”

“It’s also upside down.”

“It makes more sense this way,” Twilight replied in a vain attempt to cover being caught out by the engineer, “This ‘Football’ game does sound exciting, it’s a pity I missed the season.”

Wischusen began to set up his laptop to transfer the data to the engineering station, “The Bunnies are a good side, they deserved their victory.” he said as he indicated for Twilight to vacate his chair.

“I’m just having trouble believing that a team called the ‘Rabbitohs’ won the grand final. Better not tell Angel or he’ll be even more insufferable!”

Wischusen wasn’t able to ask who, or even what, Angel was when Len hurried up to Twilight looking more than a tad distressed. “Um, Twilight” he began, “Is it normal for Ponies to sing at the drop of a hat?”

“It’s not unusual, ponies sing whenever the situation seems appropriate. Why?”

Len hesitated, “I can’t explain it, you’d better see for yourself.”

This intrigued Twilight, whenever a variation of the phrase ‘You’d better see for yourself’ is used, it normally meant that something interesting was happening.

“One moment please, Len,” said Twilight before she directed her attention to the garages and the mechanics working there. “Grab your tools, fellas!”

The sounds of a mad scramble inside the garage as mechanics secured the various floating tools and equipment. After a few seconds and with ears forward, Twilight concluded that all the tools had been secured and turned off her magic.

Which led to the distinctive sound of the 10mm socket hitting the ground and a string of profanity that would make Fluttershy faint! Sharing a look with Len, the pair did the only sensible thing and made a hasty retreat out of the back of the garage and into Transporter Row.

Safely away from the wraith of mechanics, the pair approached the door on the side of the Erebus transporter. From the inside, Twilight could indeed hear Rarity singing but she couldn’t make out the exact words.

Steeling herself for any number of possible disasters, Twilight poked her head through the door of the Transporter. Inside, in the eye of a maelstrom of fabric and sewing accessories was Rarity belting out a familiar tune

“... And that’s the art of the shirt!” sang Rarity

Twilight closed the door, “Yeah, that’s perfectly normal.”

At the back of the paddock, the current race had ended and the next scheduled support race was preparing to file out for their warm up lap as soon as the course car had completed its inspection of the circuit.

Everything was going smoothly. Rarity was altering shirts and was in a good enough mood to be singing about it, the two cars in the Erebus Garage were in the final stages of being checked and going into Parc Ferme so that the scrutineers could give them the once over before tomorrow’s race.

Up in the VIP room, her friends were being entertained as well as being plied with food and drink and Twilight was sure that Pinkie was off finding the next party somewhere along the corporate suites.

“Hi, Twilight!”

The surprise of having Pinkie seemingly pop out of nowhere caused Twilight to launch into the air and into the strong arms of Len

“Zoinks!” the driver deadpanned, “where did you come from?”

“Well, when a mommy pony and a daddy pony love each other very much-”

“PINKIE!” exclaimed Twilight as she covered Len’s ears with her hooves, “That’s not what he meant.”

It was taking all of Len’s considerable control to keep his stoic expression stable as a flustered Twilight tried to regain some sense of composure. With a calming cough, Twilight continued, “What Len meant was, ‘What are you doing here’ instead of being in the VIP room?”

“Well a party isn’t a party without all my friends and with Rarity sewing shirts for us and you working with Erebus I didn’t want you to miss out.”

Once again Twilight was impressed with Pinkie’s lung capacity. Indicating for Len to put her back onto the ground Twilight began, “That’s great, Pinkie, it really is.” she said, “I’ve still got some work to do but I’ll be with you when the shootout happens.”

“Pinkie Promise?” pleaded Pinkie as she unleashed the powerful combination of soulful eyes and a slightly quivering bottom lip

“With a cupcake in my eye. I’ll be there.”

Like a switch had been thrown, Pinkie’s demeanor had been changed from dower back to Super Happy with a cherry on top. Pinkie bounced on her way, happy that all was right in her world.

“Pinkie Promise?” asked Len as he watched Ponyville’s Premier Party Pony disappear into the crowd

“A very strong promise that Pinkie takes seriously. Nopony breaks a pinkie Promise, they’re forever.”

“Forever” came a voice in the distance.

As it stood, that was the high water mark for Pony related weirdness for the afternoon as the garages were the centre of attention for crew members of all the teams. Upstairs, Pinkie had joined Applejack, Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy as they watched the rest of the support races. All in all, it was a relaxing afternoon.

Pit Lane came alive as soon as the final support race had ended. While in non-racing circles, the 20 minutes between sessions might seem like a fair amount of time, to the teams that were competing in the Top Ten Shootout, it may as well have been the blinking of an eye.

While Channel 7 filled in the televised gap with fluff about Red Bull’s involvement with the RAAF and George Fury’s historical 1984 pole winning Bluebird and the tribute livery on the #23 car, Twilight hurried back up to the VIP room.

Twilight’s timing couldn’t have been better as Neil Crompton was weaving in and out of the various garages and somehow had managed to corral Damian White, the head of Motorsport for V8 Supercars, to address the controversy about the withdrawal of one of the top ten.

“Just updating those that will play inside our top ten,” said Crompton as he apologised to White for dragging him out of his current conversation. “We’ve been throwing up the possibility that James Courtney may be brought forward from position number eleven from yesterday into the Top Ten because of the demise of car number two, his teammate Garth Tander. What’s going on there? I understand that we won’t see James move forward.”

Like any good manager, White knew the secret to looking good in a surprise interview is to initially deflect while mentally centering himself before actually answering the question. “Firstly, how good is the passion of this Pit Lane?” White asked rhetorically, “There’s a lot of energy up and down here right now and a lot of people making decisions about decisions that weren’t yet made.”

Once White was in control of the conversation, he continued. “A couple of things. He will be elevated to position ten, but not until tomorrow morning’s race, because that is standard practice. If a car withdrawals we move them up and fill that grid. In terms of the Shootout, yes there were discussions around whether or not the car should fill the position of a car that has been withdrawn, irrespective that they are from the same team.

“When you look at the rule, it’s clear and the intention of that rule is that the people that are the fastest ten people in qualifying should be in the shootout. It’s disappointing that we’re only going to have nine cars but the fact is that it’s for the ten fastest and one can’t take part.”

In the VIP room, Twilight nodded in understanding, she had reviewed the Operations manual for the V8 Supercars and had come to a similar conclusion. “Where’s Rarity?” Twilight asked as she looked around the room, “Don’t tell me she’s still working on the shirts?”

“Oh no, darling,” came the slightly out of breath voice the Ponyville dressmaker, “I just finished.”

“What, all of them?” asked Applejack, “Ya didn’t overwork yourself, did ya?”

“Of course not, these were merely alterations on some interesting designs. It’s not like I had to create the shirts from scratch.”

“So, when do we get to see them?” Rainbow Dash was trying and failing to hide her excitement behind a thin veneer of casual ‘Coolness’

Beyond rolling her eyes at the transparent display from her friend, Rarity showed no outward emotion towards her friend, “Really, Rainbow Dash. They will be ready for you to wear tomorrow morning before the race and not a minute earlier.”

It was a combination of the finality of Rarity’s statement and the first of the nine drivers competing in the shootout exiting Pit Lane put an end to any further discussion on the matter.

The official confirmation that there would only be nine competitors in the shootout didn’t seem to dampen the spirits of the fans at the top of the mountain as Craig Lowndes passed through McPhillamy Park on his ‘Out Lap’, their cheering loud and unashamed.

Twilight knew from her own experience that the crowd could be heard from inside the car, even over the noise of the engine. As Lowndes drove down Conrod Straight, he went through the same series of manoeuvres to heat his brakes and tires that he did when he was taking Twilight on her ‘Hot Lap’.

For Twilight, it was interesting to see how the Triple 8 Commodore reacted to the forceful actions. Each jerk of the steering wheel or application of the brake made the Commodore lurch in one direction or another as momentum was converted into precious heat to ensure that the tires were at their maximum grip and that the brakes were at the right temperature to arrest the Commodore at the right moments.

With brakes and tires at optimal temperatures, Lowndes started his lap and it was immediately apparent that this shootout lap was not going to set any records.

“Ah thought that he’d be going faster than that.” said Applejack as the timing information was displayed on the television.

“It’s a shakedown lap, his car has had some major work done in the last five hours and he just wants to get an official time in while making sure that everything works.”

Five pairs of eyes stared at Rainbow Dash, the mare at the centre of attention wilted slightly under the gaze of her friends. “What?” she asked from her seat, “I know things.”

“Oh, I thought that you were doing your Twilight impersonation again.” said Pinkie Pie. A remark that made Twilight stare wide eyed at Rainbow Dash.

While Rainbow Dash loved being the centre of attention, she prefers it to be on her own terms. Fortunately for Rainbow Dash’s ego, a convenient distraction was displayed on the televisions in the form of the next car coming around to do a hot lap.

The normal procedure for single car qualification laps is that the next car in line starts their out lap when the proceeding car has passed the Pit Lane exit on their qualifying lap. That way the two cars don’t interfere with each other.

The Moffat name had a strong legacy in Australian motorsport. The historic first and second place finish in 1977 with Alan Moffat leading Colin Bond over the finish line became one of the most talked about moments in the race's history. On this day, it was James Moffat, Alan’s son, who was about to start his lap of the shootout.

For the younger Moffat, the day was special for another reason. In the four starts that he’s had since his debut in 2010, this was the first time that he’s been fast enough to have a place in the Shoot Out.

Moffat was fully committed as he started his hot lap, his tires protesting ever so slightly as rounded Hell Corner and up Mountain Straight. The tires continued their protest all through the first sector as he came up two tenths of a second slower than Lowndes.

Through the second sector, the new surface that had given all the cars speed was also causing problems with handling for Moffat as he descended Mount Panorama, by the time he reached the end of the second timing sector, he had clawed back almost a whole tenth of a second.

It wasn’t until Moffat had reached the kink in The Chase where he was forced to take a wider line than usual due to his braking a fraction of a second later than usual, an act that could have ended badly for the young driver but by the time he had completed his lap, he was only slightly behind Lowndes.

The next qualifier was Jack Perkins, the son of another Bathurst Legend. His father, Larry Perkins, had won at Bathurst six times, three times with the legendary Peter Brock and three times under his own banner.

The most famous of his wins was in 1995 when after having a tire blow out on the opening lap, he limped back to Pit Lane while going a lap down in the process. During the race, he fought to get back onto the lead lap. Once on the lead lap, he made his way through the field and when the checkered flag was waved on lap 161, Larry Perkins and Russell Ingall were the winners.

As a youth, Jack Perkins was a staple of the Perkins Engineering garage and he had learned a lot under his father's tutelage. Unlike Lowndes and Moffat, there was no protesting sound from the tires as Perkins made his way through the first sector. His cars setup had minimised the understeering issues that had plagued the teams from the first practice session.

Completing the first sector fractionally faster than Lowndes was proof that the setup used was good. The main issue was that the shadows were beginning to lengthen as the late afternoon wore on, as the air temperature cooled, so did the track and it’s grip level increased. The result was faster lap times for those who would come later in the Shootout.

The comparative time for the second sector between Lowndes and Perkins was again in Perkins favour as he was over a tenth of a second faster as he started down Conrod Straight. Everything looked set for Perkins to be elevated to provisional pole but a brake lock up and recovery at Murray’s Corner cost half a second and relegated him to third.

“Garh!” came a sound somewhere between a cry of shock and surprise combined with a mouthful of liquid. Unsurprisingly, it was Rainbow Dash who was taking a drink of her beer when the time was displayed on the television. “Oh, c’mon! How did that happen?”

Having gotten used to her friends' outbursts over the years, Applejack ignored the obvious rhetorical question and decided to offer some down to earth advice.

“Doncha go fretting, there’s still that fella with the funny name,” said Applejack, “He also drives one of them Fords.”

Rainbow Dash had to concede Applejack’s point, “Mark is a funny name,” she said, “That’s probably why he goes by ‘Frosty’”

After a moment of thought, Rainbow Dash continued, “I know a Frosty Winterbottom, he designs clouds in Manehatten.”

The introspection from Rainbow Dash meant that the group missed the first half of Jason Bright’s lap. Over the course of the last 5 practice sessions, the new surface that had been giving every team a hard time and while most teams took a holistic approach to the problem and worked to find a setup that allowed for the fastest overall lap time.

For Bright and the crew at Brad Jones Racing, their approach was a little different. They understood that there were sections of the circuit where the car's suspension and handling would come into play more than others and by taking a corner-to-corner approach to find a workable setup.

Bright was also an experienced driver who had 18 starts in the Bathurst 1000 with a win early in his career. His consistency in finishing in the front half of the field in the majority of his starts meant that while he may not have the fastest car on the day, his ability to set up a car for his driving style was strong.

The running joke in Pit Lane was that the team had changed everything on the car except the stickers!

It was only the roar from the crowd at McPhillamy Park that brought Rainbow Dash back to the present with the timing showing that Bright was up by almost a quarter of a second as he started the journey across the top of Mount Panorama.

By the time he had reached the end of the second sector, Bright was faster than Lowndes by more than four tenths of a second. A clean run through The Chase and Murrays Corner allowed Bright to take the provisional pole from Lowndes by seven tenths of a second and very nearly breaking the two minute and six second barrier for the first time in the shootout.

With the exception of the two Erebus Mercedes, every manufacturer was represented in the shootout and as the shootout progressed, the lap times would only get faster. The next car was a truly international entry.

Proudly displaying the Swedish flag on its roof and being driven by the combination of a New Zealander and a Frenchman. Fluttershy was eagerly looking forward to seeing the Volvo perform its solo lap.

“Oh, this is exciting!” she said as she clapped her hooves together. Even though Fluttershy had only limited exposure to humanity in general, she had found a sort of tranquility in bonding with the light hearted and easy going nature of the Gary Rogers crew.

The shadows were stretching across the surface of the track and there was talk from the commentators on the television that the Volvo would be the first car to break into the 2:06 bracket for the session.

What Fluttershy noticed was that due to using a different engine layout, the tone of the Volvo engine was dramatically different from the previous sounds made by the Holden, Ford or Nissan entries.

With an open circuit ahead of him, the young New Zealander had taken a slightly different line to minimise the understeer that had been plaguing the teams. At the end of the first sector he was slightly faster than Bright as he crossed the top of Mount Panorama.

At the completion of the second sector, McLaughlin was a third of a second faster than Bright as he powered his way down Conrod Straight. Knowing that his car was oversteering, McLaughlin turned in slightly early at both the beginning and the kink in The Chase, this allowed him to position his car under hard braking for a faster exit of that particular corner.

The end result was a clean run across the finish line a whole quarter of a second ahead of Bright in provisional second and nearly a second ahead of Lowndes in third. McLaughlin was also the first car of the session to break the psychological barrier of two minutes and six second around Mount Panorama.

The reaction from Fluttershy was the most telling. Her normally calm demeanor was offset by the occasional vibration that coursed through her frame as she struggled to contain her excitement.

It took only a few seconds for the eventual release of emotion in a manner that could only be described as ‘Typical Fluttershy’. “He did it, he did it!” she cheered, hopping up and down on the couch, “Two minutes and six seconds!”

Rarity calmly put a hoof on Fluttershy’s shoulder, it was a nice, if non-verbal way of indicating that while excitement was all well and good, there was a decorum to be followed. Embarrassed at her outburst, Fluttershy meekly cheered “Yay” while the next driver began his lap.

The second Ford in the Shootout was being driven by the current holder of the Peter Brock Trophy, Mark Winterbottom, and this time it was Rainbow Dash who was having trouble containing her excitement.

Winterbottom’s approach to Hell Corner and Mountain Straight was slightly more aggressive than the previous drivers. Being one of the faster drivers over the practice sessions, Winterbottom was evaluating the entire circuit based on the response he felt from his car on that one corner.

His entrance to Griffins Bend was slightly earlier than other drivers, Winterbottom focused on making sure he had a clean exit from the corner to ensure that he was correctly placed on the circuit for the next corner.

The tires made the characteristic ‘Chattering’ noise that had become familiar to both drivers and spectators alike. Winterbottom had set his car up for a single qualifying run, it meant that while his car may be quicker than normal, he had to work harder to keep it under control. During the race, his setup would quickly lead to increased fatigue, driving errors, and eventually, towards an incident serious enough to bring out the Safety Car.

Winterbottom’s tactics had bore fruit. At the end of the first sector he was better than a tenth of a second faster than McLaughlin as he began his descent of Mount Panorama. There was a scare for Winterbottom as he oversteered at the exit from The Essess and was a car width out of position as he approached The Dipper.

Instead of attempting to correct the oversteer, Winterbottom allowed the car to drift wide of the apex and take a more controlled angle to The Dipper and back onto the racing line. While the change in racing had prevented Winterbottom from hitting the concrete walls, the gains that he had made in the first sector were all wiped out as he went through Forrest's Elbow and onto Conrod Straight.

With the difference being only a tenth of a second in the split between McLaughlin and Winterbottom, it was possible that Winterbottom could recover in the final sector. At the end of Conrod Straight and entering The Chase, Winterbottom was hard on both the brakes and using the engine to slow himself down enough to force his way through the slow kink and exit faster. Due to the strain such a maneuver placed on the engine, it was not a tactic that was used often. But for a shot at Pole Position at Bathurst, no driver held anything back if they thought they had even the slightest chance.

It took a few tense seconds before Winterbottom crossed the line but the timing results were immediately displayed. Under normal circumstances, Rainbow Dash was considered to be a ‘Sore winner’, always ready to crow in the face of whoever dared to challenge her and come off second best.

When it came to Fluttershy, the vast majority of Rainbow Dash’s unwritten rules were put on hold. The prismatic Pegasus couldn’t bring herself to taunt, tease or mock her sensitive friend.

“It’s okay, Fluttershy,” said Rainbow Dash with a cough, “It isn’t where you start, but where you finish in a race.”

Fluttershy nodded, intellectually she knew that tomorrow over the course of 161 laps, anything could happen. Drivers could make a small error and be forced to retire, cars could break down under the strain of running at peak performance for hours at a time. Emotionally, it still stung to see a young and talented driver be pushed into second place so close to the end of the Shoot Out.

There were three remaining drivers still to take their shot at Pole Position and the next one to make the attempt was Dale Wood. Wood had a checkered career in Australian Motorsport, his performance in the development series was enough to get him noticed for a co-drivers position but he was having little success in obtaining a full time drive.

The previous year he had finished first in the Dunlop Supercar Series, that combined with Britek Motorsport’s vacant Racing Entitlements Contract and a partnership with Brad Jones Racing gave Wood an opportunity to showcase his talents in the main series.

Before he even started his qualifying lap, Wood’s took a more aggressive approach as he exited Murray's corner with a slight squeal of the tires under load as he did everything he could to shave off the precious fractions of a second that could be the difference between being recorded as a Bathurst pole winner and second place on the grid.

The extra speed from Wood’s approach to Hell Corner meant that he had to work harder to control his car as he passed through the apex to position himself for the ride up Mountain Straight, but the payoff was a faster exit from the corner with an eye to an overall faster lap time.

At Griffin’s Bend and the approach to the Cutting, Wood’s took a more conservative line as evidenced by the lack of tire ‘chattering’ that had become common over the course of the weekend. By the time he finished the first timing sector he was more than a tenth of a second slower than Winterbottom.

In the second sector, Wood’s drive was cleaner than Winterbottom’s but the earlier aggression that was on display at the start of the lap had evaporated and the difference between the two drivers had stretched out to just over a second in favour of Winterbottom.

Wood was by no means cruising down Conrod Straight but it was clear that he had been instructed by his race engineer to complete a clean lap and not stress his cars components. As it stood, Wood crossed the finish line in sixth one point three seconds slower than Winterbottom.

Following the lackluster performance of Wood was the New Zealander Shane Van Gisbergen in the Tekno Autosports car. It was to Applejack’s delight that she recognised the distinctive red ribbon and logo on the bright yellow bonnet.

“I’ll be. That’s that fella, Tony Quinn’s product.”

“Oh, do you think that they might have something for Opal?” asked Rarity

“Ya, know. I reckon they just might.”

As thrilling as the conversation in the background was, Van Gisbergen had finished his warm-up lap and had, in actuality, started his shootout lap early by treating the section of the circuit from The Chase to the Finish line as part of the shootout lap. His aggressive handling of those few corners had allowed Van Gisbergen to heat his tires up a few degrees more than the previous drivers.

Van Gisbergen was not an inexperienced driver at Mount Panorama. Earlier in the year, he had achieved the lap record for a GT class of car and that reflected in his driving style. At the end of the first timing sector, Van Gisbergen was in first by less than an eyeblink.

By the time Van Gisbergen had crossed the top of the mountain, and using every millimeter of track to his advantage, he was almost four tenths of a second faster than Winterbottom as he powered down Conrod Straight.

Like some of the previous drivers, Van Gisbergen took a faster approach to the Kink in The Chase than what was normally used during racing conditions. To prevent wheelspin and brakes locking up, Van Gisbergen used a series of quick gear changes to force the engine to slow down. This trick meant that while he would lose as much speed as any other driver going through the corner, his engine speed and gear selection meant that he would be able to regain speed a fraction of a second faster. The risk was that this type of engine abuse increased the chance that he would either damage the transaxle, damage the fickle racing engine, or both.

Holding nothing back as he came to the penultimate corner, Van Gisbergen took the turn cleanly to cross the line a third of a second ahead of Winterbottom and into provisional pole.

The final car to do a qualifying run in the reduced shootout was Fabian Coulthard, the feeling inside the VIP room was electric after seeing Van Gisbergen’s qualifying lap and knowing that the final driver was also the current lap record holder.

Coulthard’s run up Mountain Straight was fast, as was his approach through Griffin’s Bend and into The Cutting. At the end of the first timing sector, Coulthard was slower than Van Gisbergen but over the previous practice and qualifying sessions it was in the second timing sector where Coulthard had made up ground.

It was not to be. Couthard’s approach from McPhillamy Park was slightly out and he had to tap the brakes to help line the car up for Skyline and the approach to the Essesses. That singular misstep had a flow on effect so that by the time Coulthard had arrived at Forrest’s Elbow and the end of the second timing sector, he was half a second down on Van Gisbergen’s time.

Coulthard’s run down Conrod Straight was fast, as was his passage through The Chase, exiting The Chase he managed to put a rear tire onto the grass. This mistake increased the time difference between Coulthard and Van Gisbergen to over seven tenths of a second at the finish line and relegated Coulthard down to fifth for Sunday’s race.

With the end of the shootout, the day was officially over. After the course car had done a final check of the circuit, officials reopened Mount Panorama for public use the ‘Mane Six’ as various teams had dubbed the Ponyville Ponies went over Twilight’s itinerary for the final outing, and most challenging event in any diplomatic event of the day, dinner.

Author's Note:

It's been a while, but yeah... I'm back!

Many thanks to totallynotabrony and Fana Farouche for the proofreading, pre-reading and support.

Comments ( 12 )

Unfortunately, Rarity crossed paths with a wandering driver by the name of David Reynolds. To the uninformed and the unwary, Reynolds appeared to be flighty as he drifted from one event to the next, seemingly without a care. He knew that he was a strong driver and he enjoyed the great Australian pastime of ‘Shit stirring’

So he's essentially the humanized version of Trouble Shoes? :unsuresweetie:

Of course, as soon as Reynolds leaned against anything, he would feel the slight prick against his skin with no idea as to the cause. With any luck, the irritation should last the rest of the afternoon.

Ooh! Devilish! :ajsmug:

The man has no filter. It cost him $25,000 when he referred to an all female driving team as 'The Pussy Wagon' during a press conference!

She's got skills in ways that would both mystify and delight you.

737 days!

Seven HUNDRED and thirty-seven DAYS!

That's just over 2 years!

Ya know... If you didn't want me back you could have just said so! :derpytongue2:

I had thought this tale was lost to the void, never to be finished.
Very glad to see that shall not be the case.
Have seen far too many over my 20+ years wandering the net.

As DWK would put it,

Rarity may be overtly feminine and seem like a damsel that needs to be protected, but that appearance is simply the bow on the hard hat

It’s alive! Huzzah!

Anybody that starts reading this next year will think “Wait, isn’t Ricciardo at McLaren?”.

That's why I included dates on the later chapters.

Glad to see you're back. Hopefully it won't be another 2 years for the next chapter. ;)

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